Coming Up at Brooklyn Historical Society This Week

On Wednesday evening, March 11, starting at 6:30, the Brooklyn Historical Society will present “Women and Power,” a panel of four historians discussing their works about women who “exercised power in an often hostile environment and advocated changes in American society.” Cindy Lobel is the author of a soon to be published biography of Catharine Beecher (photo), a sister of Henry Ward Beecher, the abolitionist preacher who held the pulpit at Brooklyn Heights’ Plymouth Church in the years leading up to, during, and just after the Civil War. Catharine Beecher was an advocate of education for women, and established girls’ schools in Hartford and, after her father Lyman Beecher moved west, in Cincinnati. In other respects she was conservative: she opposed women’s suffrage because she believed they should not become involved in politics, and thought the proper roles for women were as mothers and teachers.

Lara Vapnek will discuss her biography of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, labor advocate, socialist, and champion of civil liberties, who was imprisoned for two years under the Smith Act in the early 1950s, became head of the Communist Party USA in 1961, died during a visit to Moscow in 1964, was given a state funeral by the USSR and, in accordance with her wishes, is buried in Chicago near the graves of other labor advocates and the martyrs of the Haymarket Riot.

Brooklyn’s own Shirley Chisholm is the subject of Barbara Winslow’s 2013 biography. In 1968 Chisholm, after a long career as an educator, became the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served until 1983. She campaigned for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972.

Robyn Spencer, author of several articles and a book in progress about the Black Panther Party, will speak about Angela Davis, political activist, feminist, and philosopher who was for a time on the FBI most wanted list, but later acquitted of all charges against her, and now teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This event is free, but you must reserve tickets here.

On Thursday evening, March 12, also starting at 6:30, BHS will present a “Book Talk” by distinguished historian Martha Hodes, author of Mourning Lincoln, which

delve[s] into personal and private responses—of African Americans and whites, Yankees and Confederates, soldiers and civilians—investigating the story of the nation’s first presidential assassination on a human scale. Black freedom, the fate of former Confederates, and the future of the nation were at stake for everyone, whether they grieved or rejoiced when they heard the news.

This event is also free, but you must reserve tickets here.

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